If you're trying to put on pounds and need to consume a large number of calories, weight gainer shakes can help. High-calorie drinks make gaining weight easier because drinking 4,000 calories is a lot more convenient than trying to eat 4,000 calories worth of food.
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Safe and Healthy Weight Gain
Compared to weight loss, having to gain weight is considered to be a good problem to have. However, putting on weight is not as simple or straightforward as it may seem. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) warns that having to put on weight does not give you free rein to eat as much of any food as you want.
While filling up on non-nutritious food can help you gain weight, it doesn't satisfy your body's nutritional needs. Furthermore, even if the sugar and fat in processed food don't cause you to put on weight, they can still do considerable harm to your health.
According to the AAFP, weight gain is similar to weight loss in that it requires a carefully considered approach — one that ensures you're meeting both caloric and nutritional needs. When it comes to weight gainer shakes, that means choosing ingredients that provide both calories as well as nutrition, rather than opting for high-calorie shakes that have little nutritional value.
Don't consume high-calorie shakes that are in the vicinity of 4,000 calories each unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor or nutritionist. A single shake exceeds, and in some cases even doubles, the number of calories that most people are supposed to eat in an entire day, which range from 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day for adult men, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
It's worth noting that these figures are just estimates and may not apply to you specifically. The actual number of calories you need per day varies depending on several factors like height, weight, age, physical activity level, body fat percentage and genetics, points out the American Council on Exercise.
If you're working out and trying to bulk up, for example, your calorie needs will probably be significantly higher than the standard recommendations. This is due to your increased physical activity. Even some athletes may require an exceptionally high-calorie intake. The AAFP notes this is because you need to replace the number of calories you burn through exercise each day.
It's important that you work with a doctor or nutritionist to determine how many calories you need to meet your health and fitness goals and then create a healthy meal plan accordingly. Provided you have the go-ahead from your healthcare provider, here are some ideas for making healthy weight gainer shakes. If you get the combinations right, they have the potential to be pretty tasty as well.
Shakes and smoothies are normally made with yogurt or milk, either dairy or non-dairy, as the base. However, to amp up the calorie content of your shakes, you can use heavy cream or coconut cream as your base instead.
One cup of heavy cream has 809 calories and also contains nutrients like protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins A, B12 and D. There are 679 calories as well as large doses of protein and potassium in 100 grams of coconut cream.
You can use foods like peanut butter, dates and honey to thicken your shakes and add flavor and sweetness. At 1,382 calories per cup, nut butters have substantial caloric heft and will add flavor to your shakes. They're also good sources of protein. There are 277 calories, along with nutrients like fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A in 100 grams of dates. An ounce of honey has 85 calories.
Rolled oats can also act as a thickening agent and provide calories and nutrition. A half-cup of whole-grain rolled oats offers 200 calories in addition to protein, fiber, calcium and vitamin C. You can also add seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds to your shakes. Two tablespoons of flax seeds have 75 calories, while two tablespoons of chia seeds have 90 calories. Both are good sources of fiber, calcium, protein and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
Fruits like bananas and avocados can also help you add calories and texture to your shakes. One cup of avocado has 384 calories and nutrients like protein, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, folate, vitamins A, C and K and unsaturated fats. One cup of mashed banana has 200 calories, along with fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A and C.
Nuts like almonds and pecans can add both calories and crunch to your shakes. Fifty grams of almonds give you about 290 calories, while 50 grams of pecans provide 346 calories. You can just chop them up and them to your shakes after you've blended them. Coconut flakes and dried fruits can also add calories and flavor.
Knowing the calorie content of these ingredients can help you play around with them and make delicious weight gainer shakes that suit your tastes and preferences.
Natural, Healthy Flavors
You can add ingredients like cocoa powder, matcha, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger or nutmeg to your shakes to help flavor them naturally. These ingredients won't add to the calorie content of the shakes, but they can make them taste much better.
Once you develop a shake that you like in terms of the base ingredients, you can experiment with different flavors and maybe even try a new flavor every day to keep things interesting. If you're experimenting with shakes and make one you don't like, adding some flavor to it can help mask the taste so that you don't have to throw out the whole product and start over.
You can also use fruits and berries like strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, apples, peaches and pineapple to flavor your shakes. If you like chunky shakes, you can adjust your blender setting to give you small chunks of fresh fruit in your beverage.
To help you get started, here are some ideas for healthy weight gainer shakes:
- Banana nut butter shake: Use a heavy cream base, with rolled oats, nut butter, mashed bananas and chopped nuts for crunch. If you use equal parts of heavy cream and nut butter, you should get a pretty thick shake, especially with the rolled oats added in. Using frozen bananas instead of room temperature bananas can give your shake the consistency of ice cream.
- Pineapple coconut shake: This coconut cream-based shake is a good option if you're not a fan of dairy. Use coconut cream, pineapple, vanilla, chia seeds and shredded coconut flakes to make this tropical shake.
If you don't normally drink weight gainer shakes, be sure to start gradually. These nutrient-dense beverages can contain a lot of natural sugar and fiber, which may trigger diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues if you're not used to them.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "Healthy Ways to Gain Weight If You’re Underweight"
- USDA: “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”
- American Council on Exercise: “Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It — And Raise It, Too”
- USDA: “Cream, Fluid, Heavy Whipping”
- USDA: “Organic Creamed Unsweetened Coconut”
- USDA: “Nut Butter”
- USDA: “Honey”
- USDA: “Dates”
- USDA: “Whole Grain Rolled Oats”
- USDA: “Avocados, Raw, California”
- USDA: “Bananas, Raw”
- USDA: “Flax Seed”
- USDA: “Chia Seed”
- USDA: “Nuts, Almond”
- USDA: “Nuts, Pecans”
- Harvard Medical School: “Avoiding Nuts and Seeds for Better Gut Health? You Shouldn’t”
- Harvard Medical School: “Is Something in Your Diet Causing Diarrhea?”